It’s now up to 70% cheaper to respond to selected Barks!

We’re cutting prices by up to 70% for pros in 25 of our most promising categories, from acupuncture to vehicle window tinting and more.

Why? Because if you’re a skilled professional in the UK, we believe you should be able to quickly grow your business online with Bark, no matter what industry you work in.

Although we get loads of Barks in these categories, competition for them is relatively low – making them some of the most potentially lucrative services we cater for.

They’re ideal if you’ve thought about registering with us before but weren’t sure it was right for your business, or if you offer similar services already and think it might be worth branching out to attract new customers.

So – whatever services your small business provides – make sure you take a look at this breakdown of most heavily discounted categories today:

Category Discount New Price
Acupuncture & Acupressure 50% 3 credits
Business Card Printing 66% 2 credits
Dog Walking 50% 1 credit
Kitchen Tiling 70% 3 credits
Massage Therapy 50% 1 credit
Masseurs 50% 1 credit
Pet Care 50% 1 credit
Pet Sitting 50% 1 credit
Picture Framing 50% 2 credits
Portrait Photographers 50% 5 credits
TV & AV Repair 50% 1 credit
TV Installation & Mounting 66% 1 credit
Upholstery & Furniture Cleaning 50% 1 credit
Vehicle Window Tinting 66% 1 credit

Credits are £1+VAT – so if your company provides vehicle window tinting, for example, you’ll now be saving £2+VAT every time you contact a new customer through Bark.

This change should make using Bark more cost-effective, so you can generate even more business using our service.

As you can see, TV installation, vehicle window tinting and business card printing are now 67% cheaper – and it’s a full 70% less to respond to new kitchen tiling Barks.

But that’s not all, because we’ve also reduced the number of credits you need to respond to Barks by at least a third in another 11 categories:

Category Discount New Price
Artificial Turf Installation & Repair 40% 3 credits
Balloon Artistry 33% 2 credits
Bathroom Tilers 40% 3 credits
Bouncy Castle Hire 33% 2 credits
Carpet Repair or Replacement 33% 2 credits
Martial Arts Classes 33% 2 credits
Pet Photography 40% 6 credits
Video Editing 40% 6 credits
Vintage Car Hire 40% 3 credits
Wedding Car Hire 40% 3 credits
Wedding Stylist 40% 3 credits

We review our prices regularly, and are always looking to strike the best possible balance for everyone who uses our site.

So, as our most popular categories continue to grow and generate more revenue, we’ll often look to pass those savings onto you in the form of price reductions like these.

Better yet, if you’re new to Bark, we’ll even give you enough free credits to contact your first customer on us when you register on our site.

Register today to claim your FREE credits

We always make sure new pros who join our service can contact their first client on us. That way you can see first-hand how easy it can be to find new business with Bark, without needing to spend a penny.

Then, if you’d like us to continue to help you grow your business quickly online, you’ll be able to contact every subsequent customer you find through us at our new reduced rates.

Getting started couldn’t be easier – simply click the link below and open a Bark account today to claim your free Bark credits today:

Click here to start growing your business with Bark.

We’re partnering with the Association of UK Accountants to help British entrepreneurs grow their businesses

Great accountants are more than just bean counters – they’re business partners, who’ll use their wealth of experience to help your small business flourish and grow. That’s why we’re proud to announce that Bark is partnering with the Association of UK Accountants.

Unlike other accounting organisations, Association members work extensively in business before going into practice. As such, they’re focused on helping clients maximise their profits using management information, rather than simply helping with tax compliance.

Chartered Accountant, Steve Bicknell
The Association’s Business Development Director, Steve Bicknell

“Our clients tend to think of us more as business partners,” explains the Association’s Business Development Director, Steve Bicknell. “Because we have actual business experience we can provide real support in areas such as funding, cash flow, business strategy, performance measurement as well as advice on tax and compliance.”

He adds: “SME’s are the lifeblood of Britain. Our members are highly trained and experienced, we enjoy helping and mentoring, and our practices are focused on small businesses.”

As one of the largest accounting communities in the UK, the Association works with over 350 accounting practices nationwide.

Since it was founded in early 2014, it has established strategic partnerships with a broad network of companies, including crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, alternative finance experts Capitalise and angel investing site Angel’s Den.

According to the Association’s latest survey, 39% of its clients have an annual turnover of less than £100,000 – which goes to show it’s never too soon to find a professional accountant to help grow your business.

What’s more, the Association’s work with Angels and crowdfunders means it can develop fundable business plans and use its network of contacts to help start-ups.

“Very few businesses have a business or even a cash flow forecast,” Steve explains. “Often they are too optimistic on sales and don’t have a contingency plan. It’s really important to make sure you have enough resources to get your business started.”

More than two thirds of Association business clients have an annual turnover below £500,000
More than two thirds of Association business clients have an annual turnover below £500,000

“Most entrepreneurs focus on sales and business development and don’t keep proper accounts,” he adds. “We have heard of shoe box accounting where at the end of the year the business owner goes to an accountant with a shoe box full of receipts. That’s no way to run a business and you can quickly lose control.”

“People turn to Bark every day to find skilled professionals to help them with everything from lawn mowing to legal representation,” says Bark cofounder Kai Feller. “We’re committed to finding the highest quality pros for our users, and this new partnership will make it even easier for us to help entrepreneurs throughout the UK find quality business accountants.”

To compare estimates from business accountants in your area – simply place a Bark using the link below and we’ll begin matching you with local pros right away.

Click here to find local business accountants today.

With ‘one-click response’ you’ll never need to pass on a promising Bark again

 

Speed is important when pitching for business on Bark.

Customers are highly likely to hire one of the first pros they hear from. But we know our best pros are busy, and often out working on jobs when new Barks come in.

So we decided to create a tool you can use to respond to Barks instantly, even if you’re busy with other things when you receive them. It’s called ‘one-click response’ and it lets you save a standard reply you can send when you’re short on time.

An easy way to get more business with Bark

People who place Barks on our site are generally looking to hire a pro as quickly as possible. Looking at the last 100,000 Barks placed on our site, we discovered users are twice as likely to hire pros that respond quickly over those who take longer to respond.

This stands to reason. Once you’ve taken the time to research something and make a decision about it, you’re going to be reluctant to change your mind.

So when you receive an email about a new Bark, it’s a good idea to make sure you respond quickly – and that’s where one-click response comes in. It’s a simple tool that lets you save a standard response you can send to new customers instantly, with the click of a button.

You can set up your one-click response in your Bark pro dashboard
You can set up your one-click response in your Bark pro dashboard

You’ll find it in the new ‘one-click response’ tab in your Bark dashboard, and setting it up couldn’t be easier.

The first step is to enter your one-click response into the text box provided. If you need a little inspiration, we put together this guide to help you come up with a great one-click response to promote your business.

The idea here is to create a generic message you could send to any of your customers. Take your time to get it right and, when you’re happy, enable your response by clicking the ‘save’ button.

Respond instantly, with a single click

Once you’ve enabled one-click response, the rest is easy. You’ll see a new button that says ‘send one-click response’ when we next email to alert you to a potential new customer.

If you’re too busy to respond with a tailored message, click that button and we’ll send your one-click response instantly instead. That way, you can get in and register your interest before the customer picks someone else.

Then later, when you have more time, you can follow-up with a personalised response and estimate.

We hope this new feature useful will mean you never need to pass on a promising job because you’re busy with other things again.

If you have any thoughts or feedback about it, we’d love to hear from you. Send us an email at team@bark.com or leave a comment below.

Getting great reviews on your Bark Profile is now easier than ever

It’s Saturday night. You’ve invited friends over for a film and you fancy a takeaway. Someone suggests an Indian, so you type it into Google and five local restaurants pop up.

Which one do you choose?

Well, if you’re anything like us, you go for the one with the biggest number of positive reviews. If other people like it enough to write about their experiences then it must be good.

That’s why we believe getting positive reviews from your customers is one of the best ways to grow your business and attract more customers.

In this week’s Bark Bulletin, we’ll run you through how we’ve made it easier than ever for customers to leave reviews your Bark Profile – and show you how to start getting great reviews right away.

Why nothing beats a
good review

As a small business owner, we’re sure you already know what a powerful thing a good review can be.

Every company will say it’s good, even if it isn’t. But people know they can trust recommendations from their fellow customers.

In fact, one Zendesk survey found that 90% of people say positive reviews influence their buying decisions, and 86% say their decisions are influenced by negative reviews.

To see this for yourself, imagine you’ve just placed a Bark for Driving Lessons and the following two companies give you an estimate:

pennine 2 pinnacle driving

All other things being equal, most people will opt for the company with the five-star review.

That’s why it’s so important to ask customers to give you feedback on your Bark Profile – and today we’ll show you how.

But before we get to that, there’s one more benefit to getting more Bark reviews we haven’t mentioned yet…

You could get five
stars on Google

If you have a few reviews on your Bark Profile already, you might like to take a moment now to Google yourself and see this feature in action.

It’s one of our favourite features, as it has the potential to really set you apart from any other companies that crop up when a potential customer searches for local services in your area.

As you can see from this entry for one of our top Computer Repairs specialists, your reviews will show up in Google searches as star ratings:

LexisTech is one of the top computer repairs specialists on Bark.comWe’re sure you can imagine what a difference a Google star rating could make for your business.

It could give you a real edge over your competitors and significantly improve your chances of getting hired.

So right now, we’re going to show you how to get one of your very own.

Now it’s easier than ever to
get great reviews on your
Bark Profile

We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to streamline our reviews process, and now it’s easier than ever.

In fact, you can now request a review in a matter of seconds.

You see, every Bark Pro has their own review code.

It’s a unique web address that takes people directly to the reviews section of your Bark Profile. When they arrive, a pop-up box will prompt them to leave their feedback:

reviews box
So, to request a review you simply send a message containing your review link to one of your customers.

Anyone who’s used your services can leave a review on your Bark Profile, even if they didn’t find you through Bark.

But remember, recent customers are far more likely to get back to you than older ones – so it’s best to get in touch and request a review within 14 days of completing the job.

Now, your review code is usually hidden away in your Bark Dashboard under your ‘Profile’ tab.

But, to be honest, we reckon it’s a bit of a pain having to dig it out every time you want to ask someone for feedback – so we’ve created a handy tool that makes the process a whole lot easier.

If you have your customer’s email address, it will automatically send them a short message asking them to leave some feedback on your profile page.

You’ll find it in the brand new ‘Reviews’ tab on your Bark Dashboard, and it looks like this:

Simply enter your customer's email and click send

Better yet, it’s really simple to use…

Whenever you want to request a review from one of your customers, simply enter their email, click ‘invite’ and the reviews tool will do the rest.

That’s really all there is to it!

You can test it out right now by finding the tool in your Dashboard and typing your own email address into the box.

Let us know how you get on. And, as always, if you have any questions send us an email at team@bark.com and we’ll be happy to help.

Nick Hewer Twitter Q&A – The Answers!

Nick Hewer Twitter q&A

On 6th October 2015, we hosted an engaging Twitter Q&A with the highly successful businessman, Nick Hewer. Nick gave us an insight into the business world and offered advice for budding entrepreneurs on the hashtag, #AskNick.

Nick Hewer is well known as the host of Channel 4’s Countdown, and from 2005 to 2014 he appeared as Lord Sugar’s adviser on the British television series, The Apprentice. Nick has been working with Bark.com since our inception, so we were delighted to have him take over our Twitter feed, offering valuable business advice and providing career inspiration along the way. If you haven’t yet seen it, here’s Nick explaining how Bark.com works earlier this year.

Missed out on the Q&A? Don’t worry, because we have compiled Nick’s answers for you to digest below!

Nick Hewer Opening Q&A

Question 1: 

Question 1

Question 2:

Question 2

Question 3: 

Question 3

Question 4:

Question 4

Question 5: 

Question 5

Question 6: 

Question 6

Question 7: 

Question 7

Question 8:

Question 8

Question 9:

Question 9

Question 10:

Question 10

Question 11:

Question 11

Question 12:

Question 12

Question 13:

Question 13

Question 14:

Question 14

Question 15:

Question 15

Question 16:

Question 16

Question 17:

Question 17

After a fantastic Q&A, Nick signed off…

Nick Hewer end of Q&A

Thanks to everyone who got involved in the Q&A! Was your question answered? Is there anything else you would like to #AskNick? Let us know in the comments below!

And while you’re at it, make sure you follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page or visit our blog to keep up to date with Bark news, tips and advice!

  automatic translations .

Tying Up Loose Ends Before Going On Your Travels

The flights are booked, the selfie stick has been bought and your blog is up and running. Going travelling, or indeed moving abroad, is one of life’s most exciting adventures. All that stands between you and wanderlust is the passport checks and baggage reclaim, right? Wrong… You can’t just up and leave without tying up the loose ends your bound to encounter in the run up to your trip. From learning the local language to arranging a new home for your pooch, here’s some words of wisdom from the wise heads at Bark for you to bare In mind before you board that flight.

Home From Home

Preparing to move abroadWe’ll start with the obvious, your property. A big decision needs to be made here. Do you cash in and sell your home, or do you let it out for the duration of your stay abroad? It can be very tantalising to sell your property. Prices have increased in value by around 40% since 2011. However, you’ll want a safety net in the form of shelter in the scenario that your travels turn into a holiday from hell and you want to return pronto. That leaves us with renting. First, you need to ensure your insurance and mortgage providers are happy for your property to be converted from owner-occupier to rented. It’s best to find an expert mortgage advisor to help you with this part. What’s more, you’ll need to maximise the rentability of your home and spruce it up a bit before finding a suitor. That may require a professional to come in an address that niggling plumbing problem, or a handyman to fix the small jobs. Then there’s the small issue with tax. Landlords and property owners living abroad will still have to file a tax return every year. Sound complicated? You can always ask a tax professional to lend you a helping hand.

Learn The Lingo

Preparing to move abroadYou may think that you’ll pick up the local language easily once you’re out there and going about your daily life, but its always best to gain a grasp of the language of the country your heading to before you arrive. Us Brits are notorious for showing up on foreign soil and expecting the locals to be fluent in English– don’t be one of them. Be it Spanish, French, Chinese or whatever language you’re looking to learn, there’ll be a professional on hand to get you speaking like a local in no time. Just to us what language you’re looking to learn and we can find the ideal language professional. Capisce?

Store Those Memories

Preparing to move abroadAnother major headache of moving abroad is deciding what to do with your belongings. Most airlines these days place limits on how much you can place in the hold or in the cabin. If you’re renting out your place, you wont be able to keep stuff there, and we doubt your parents will be happy holding refuge to every possession you’ve deciding against taking with you on your travels. Your best bet is putting it into storage. It’s safe and secure and saves so much hassle. What’s more, it’s reassuring to know that your cherished possessions are stored, ready to be reunited with you when you return. If you go down the storage route, you’ll need a removal professional to transport your possessions to and fro. Or, if you prefer, you can always do it yourself and hire a van to get the job done.

Dog’s Life

Preparing to move abroadThis advice may tug on your heartstrings, so a word of caution against proceeding if you can’t face the prospect of giving up your best friend. One of the harsh realities of moving abroad is leaving your loved ones. Giving up a pet can be especially tearful. Of course, you’ll want to ensure your pet receives the best care possible in your absence, and if you intend to return in the not too distant future. If worst comes to worst and you have to say goodbye to your pooch for good, you’ll need to find a professional pet adoption agency.

Goodbye, Farewell

Preparing to move abroadSo, you’ve tidied up the home ready to let out, the taxman knows you’re heading abroad, and happy in the knowledge your pet is in safe hands. All that’s left to do is throw the biggest going away bash in history. This is your chance let out all the stress of preparing your move abroad and say goodbye to all your loved ones. You’ll need to plan this thoroughly. If you simply don’t have the time to organise your own do, you can find a professional to plan the party for you. From preparing food and drink, to finding the right venue, the team at Bark can ensure you get the perfect send off.

For more Bark.com tips and insights, why not check out our other blogs?

Hosting For The Masses: Ten Street Foods to Wow Your Guests

Summer barbecues may seem like a distant memory already, but as the colder months approach, there are still plenty of opportunities to celebrate and host coming up in the calendar. So, why not really go all out to impress your guests with your culinary prowess?

At Bark.com, we’ve seen requests for all manner of catering rise as hosts look to spice up their socials with dishes from around the world, so if you’re looking for a little inspiration, why not try one of our top ten street food picks to get the party started.

  1.  DIY tacos and burritos: A simple Mexican staple, but easy to personalise, lay out the wraps and taco shells, and provide bowls of chilli con carne, rice, cheese, salsa, guacamole and an array of vegetables. People can pick and choose as they like.Street Food Trends 2015
  2. Bubble Tea: Becoming ever more common in the UK, this beverage first found popularity in the streets of Taiwan. Traditionally a cold milk tea mixed with tapioca balls, there are now a variety of flavours to choose from – milk or juice based – and fruit jellies or popping balls that can be included for a refreshing non-alcoholic alternative drink.

    Street Food Trends 2015
    Popping onto the UK scene
  3. Poutine: Straight over the Atlantic from Canada, Poutine seems like the perfect complement to a boozy evening. Chips, gravy and cheese…what more could your guests want?
    Poutine: Summer food trends 2015
  4. Bunny Chow: This South African delicacy really gives you options. Hollow out some bread and fill it with a curry of your choice. This fun dish is great for soaking up alcohol, but maybe keep the napkins at the ready.

    Street Food trends 2015
    Dig deep for Bunny Chow
  5. Arepa: Heading to South America, this slightly thicker flatbread dish is popular in Colombia and Venezuela and it is usually filled with a combination cheese, egg and avocado.Street Food Trends 2015
  6. Jerk Chicken: Something a bit more familiar here, but a well-loved dish-if you can handle the spice! You could serve this with rice, or make it more of a casual party food by skewering it with peppers and pineapple.

    Street Food Trends 2015
    It pays to be a jerk
  7.  Currywurst: This idea of curried sausage may seem odd to some, but citizens of Germany swear by it. The sausage is steamed and then fried, sliced and served with a spiced tomato sauce. Leave in a bowl or serve with chips – whatever suits your guests.

    Street Food UK trends 2015
    The ultimate German street food
  8. Ceviche: This Peruvian speciality may not be ideal for all but the blend of raw fish marinated in citrus juices and seasoned with onions and chillies can be served with a variety of side dishes such as sweet potato, avocado and corn. It’s certainly among the lighter options! What’s more, go the extra mile and wow your guests by gaining a firm grasp of the local dialect.

    Street Food Trends 2015
    Image courtesy of The Pescertarian and The Pig
  9. Burek:  Go to a street stall in Bosnia and you’ll be greeted by many different types of pastry goods. The main flaky favourite is made with ground beef but there are alternatives filled with egg and cheese or potato and onion. If these don’t suit you, why not explore with your own flavour combinations?

    Ten street food trends UK
    Burek: Perfectly Flaky
  10. Banh Mi: All over Vietnam, you’ll see stalls serving baguettes, covered in mayonnaise and pâté, filled with pork or meatballs and garnished with cucumber, carrots, coriander and chillies. They’re a firm, if slightly messy, favourite among tourists, but perhaps worth cutting into smaller bite sized pieces for an easy to handle snack.
Street Foods UK Trends 2015
Banh Mi: A tourist favourite

People will always remember the food from parties so if you can pull some of these off then it will help to make yours one to remember for a long time! Or have the dishes but save yourself the trouble and find a caterer or even a professional chef to do the hard work for you – we won’t tell if you don’t!

For more Bark.com tips and insights, why not check out our other blogs?

An easy guide: How to build an online presence for your small business

We are surrounded by media. From when we sit at the bus stop in the morning to when we chill out in front of the TV in the evening, we are constantly targeted by large companies and brands who are desperate to gain our attention. This has become increasingly prevalent in the age of social media, which has provided another avenue from which brands can target us, even drilling down into our demographics and interests. With that in mind, small business owners now need to make sure that they are developing an online presence, to make them stand out in industries that are already heavily saturated.

It’s common knowledge that online presence means brand awareness. Nowadays, how you present your brand online is similar to meeting a customer for the first time. Your online brand is essentially what people think of you when you are not available. Online presence is often a test of credibility for many technologically savvy consumers, who would rather connect with businesses online first before making a purchasing decision. This poses an opportunity to impress and capture the attention of potential customers. These days the first port of call when looking for information about a product or a service is to ‘Google’ it, meaning online presence is crucial if you want to make your business a successful one.

So how can you become a major player in this competitive age? Here are 5 ways to effectively maximise your online presence:

Branding 

No matter how big or small your company is – branding matters. From word go a clear and consistent branding strategy should be developed, which can be pumped across all online channels to create brand recognition. According to the founder of The NY Brand Lb, Mary Van de Wiel, “without a brand you ultimately lack an identity, a presence – and a purpose.” You should think about your tone of voice and your values, as well as your visual aesthetic. Not particularly creative? Don’t know where to start? Then maybe you should find a graphic designer who can help you pinpoint what your business is about in a visually appealing way.

Communicate your brand
Shout loud about your brand

Website Design and Development 

You never know who will be knocking on your virtual door at any time of the day or night – so make sure your home on the Internet is kitted out for new visitors! Creating and more importantly maintaining a website is a useful tool for every business. Here, you can shout loud about your portfolio of work and maybe even offer your tuppence-worth via a company blog. Your website needs to be functional and user friendly, and this is where a professional with experience in website design and development may come in handy! Once you find the right web developer, start thinking about optimising your website. This will make sure that your website performs well on search engines – just like the aforementioned Google! Be front and centre of the online world, and drive traffic to your website with the help of an SEO professional.

Web Site Design
Build a user-friendly website!

Social Media

You’ve developed your brand, and mastered your website. But how can you enhance the visibility of your brand even further? The key is to make sure you are on social media – which is both effective and cost effective. Social media not only helps you to grow your customer base by reaching a wider audience, it also helps you to promote brand recognition and loyalty. Find a social media marketer who can help you maximise channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Although not the most widely used social network, G+ should also be maximised. Effective use of G+ can determine your inclusion and ranking in the carousel of businesses that appear at the top of the Google search results. As well as aiding your SEO, there are also advanced features available to businesses using G+. Check out G+ for yourself and add Bark.com to your circles!

If you’re feeling particularly competitive, you might want to also get set up on new and emerging social networks like Snapchat and Periscope. The opportunities are endless!

Be active on social media
Engage with your customers via social media

Email Marketing

In this day and age, almost everyone has an online presence in some form, even if it is just an email address. Email marketing is a sure way to stay on the radar of potential customers, and it can definitely allow you to establish profitable relationships in the long term. This is to be used wisely, and should not be spam abuse. Instead your emails should offer something to the consumer – be it special offers, industry news or company updates. Feeling a little confused? Then find an email marketer to help you get the job done.

Build a customer database
Build a targeted email marketing campaign

Online Directories

Regardless of how strong your online presence is, you won’t be able to sit back, relax and let the cash flow in. You need to get ahead of your competitors, who are battling against you with extensive advertising budgets. If a customer can’t find you when they are searching for a product or a service, then you simply won’t get the business. Joining an online directory like our very own Bark.com ensures that you are placed directly in front of the right people, often for a very minimal spend. No matter what service you provide, learn more about joining Bark by visiting our Pro-Centre.

Incorporating a targeted email marketing campaign with your slick new branding, user-friendly website and engaging social media strategy will set your small business on a path to success, all with the added help from an online directory like Bark.com!

Do you have any other tips for small business owners? Let us know!

For more Bark.com tips and insights, why not check out our other blogs?

 

Rugby World Cup 2015 – Let the games begin!

At last the gusto, chatting and mind games can finally come to an end as we find ourselves on the eve of the start of the Rugby World Cup. This is not any ordinary World Cup being hosted in England. You feel a repeat of their run to the final in 1991, the last time the tournament was played on home soil, represents the bare minimum most fans, players and pundits expect. We at Bark.com have been as guilty as anyone in getting excited and with friends across the Severn Bridge becoming sworn enemies over the next couple of weeks; it promises to be a tasty pool stage.

Rugby World Cup - England 2015 garden party
Have yourself a ball this Autumn

The plan is that much like the class of 2003 and the Ashes Winning side of 2005 and the football team of…oh wait… this side has the ability to inspire a nation. It may lead to younger children looking for coaching or perhaps for those already playing and seeing the size of those on the field, regular trips to the gym or hiring a personal trainer may be on the cards. It could well be the flexibility of the players that has you in awe and in that case don’t be afraid to do a Ryan Giggs and hire a yoga instructor or find a Pilates experts but there is always the far more appealing option of finding a hiring a massage therapist to ease those muscle aches and pains.

If participating isn’t for you then there is still plenty to do as a spectator and a number of ways to enjoy the experience. While most would have been unable to get their hands on tickets or flat out refuse to pay the extortionate fees, the TV at home or pub with friends represents a decent alternative. You may want to host a rugby-related event for friends and family, or you could leave the barbecuing to the expert and let the good times flow. If you’re really going to get in to the tournament, you may also be keen to look the part and get the shirt of your choice to help support your team; you will not be struggling to find Rugby World Cup memorabilia for the next six weeks.

BBQ enjoying World Cup
We don’t want any shrimps on the barbie…

Hope can often be one of the worst human emotions but hope is exactly what this English team represents. If a tricky group containing fellow heavyweights Australia and Wales can be negotiated and South Africa can be avoided in the quarter-finals then England can expect to go pretty close to claiming the Webb Ellis Trophy which they last won down under in 2003. An encouraging Six Nations performance, much-improved display against Ireland in their final warm-up and a patriotic Twickenham crowd who will be present throughout has given renewed confidence to this mercurial but inexperienced England side.  The likes of Jonathan Joseph, George Ford and Andre Watson all have the ability to be match winners on their day but none have ever played so far as a minute in a World Cup match. Be bold, courageous and back your skills should surely be the advice to let these young flyers flourish.

You only have to look back to 1995 and the victory for the Rainbow Nation and the iconic image of Nelson Mandela handing the trophy to South Africa captain Francois Pienaar to see the enormous unifying nature that the tournament can offer. Let’s hope the country can take heed from that competition as well as the feel-good factor of the 2012 London Olympics and get behind the home nations and give the whole country a lift.

Winter is Coming: Prepare Your Home For The Colder Months

The Great British summer is well and truly over. Bar the odd mid autumn balmy weather, we’ve got darker mornings, bitter winds and winter coats to look forward to as winter sets in. Don’t worry, we’re not there just yet, but have you thought about how well equipped your home is to deal with the chillier months? If you’re not sure, it’s best to double check that everything is shipshape before the cold snap because the last thing you need is a winter domestic mishap that puts you out of pocket and potentially out of home.

Here are the most important areas to prepare around your home to ensure you’re ready for winter.

Pipe Down
Pipes Winter insulation
Prepare your pipes

First things first, it is absolutely crucial that you head into winter with well insulated piping. Poorly protected pipes that aren’t properly insulated are likely to freeze during winter, and with that bring an inevitable blockage that could wreak havoc inside your home; potentially a complete central heating collapse or even dreaded water damage. Of course, you can prep your pipes yourself, but we always suggest calling in the expert just to be on the safe side. For your pipes to last the winter, they’ll need to be well insulated, checked regularly and have a regular supply of warm air circulating through them. If your pipes do freeze, it’s best to summon a professional plumber as fast as possible.

Bonnie Boiler
house heating boiler
Service your boiler regularly

October 31st . Save the date. According to HomeServe, that is the day that 28% of us Brits turn our central heating on, ready for the frost. With just under a month before we reach for the dial, make sure your boiler is well pressurised, your radiators are bled and, above all, the central heating has been serviced. It’s recommended that you service your boiler once a year, so now would be the perfect time to do just that. Find a local plumber to service your boiler and check your whole system.

 First Draught
Draught proofing home WInter
Porches and conservatories are perfect for maintaining heat

It’s the little things that make the biggest difference. There’s nothing worse than trying to keep nice and cosy on a cold winter’s night only for a chilly draught to invade your home. Door and window frames, floorboards and letterboxes are the main culprits for allowing the draught in. A simple DIY session can amend these gaps and leave your home nice and toasty. You could even go the whole ten yards and install a porch or conservatory onto your property; ultimate protection for maintaining the warmth, and added space to relax in.

Glazed over
Preparing home for winter
Window of opportunity

Installing double-glazing on your property this winter has three main benefits. The obvious one is that it helps insulate your home and keep out the cold. Not only that, it’ll also muffle any unwanted sounds from outside. Third, and perhaps most importantly, installing double-glazing can help you save up to £170 a year on your energy bills. Have we won you over? Thought so. Find an expert to install double-glazing on your property.

Roof And Ready
Roof repairs and maintenance winter
Preparing your roof for winter is vital

The roof is perhaps the most overlooked part of any property, but ensuring it’s in prime condition is probably the most crucial part of our heat-saving masterplan. Winter brings falling leaves, and with that brings blocked gutters. What may be a quick-fix can easily become a major issue that threatens to undo all your hard work. What’s more, if you have cracks and weaknesses around the roof, the dastardly frost can wreak havoc and cause leaks that require a costly fix. It’s important to check your roof as often as possible before winter sets in, both from the inside and the outside. If you suspect anything is wrong, however slight, it’s probably best you find a roofer to fix the issue. What may be a relatively cheap fix could end up costing thousands if left unattended.

Ensure you’re insured
Preparing your property for Winter
Play it safe and get home insurance

So, if you’ve stuck to the plan, you should have your pipes sorted, your boiler in tip-top shape and a nice warm home complete with double-glazing and a new roof. Bring it on, Winter. Right? Wrong. The last thing you need is to be complacent and think that the job is done. It is crucial that you’re fully insured to cover the worst case scenario. Who knows what weather we could have in store?

It’s always best to cover every base and insure your home. After all, what’s the point in going to great lengths to prep your home for it all to come unstuck through freak weather?